Your rights when making payments in Europe

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by Atanas Zaprianov

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The EU is aiming to create a single payment area to enable its citizens and businesses to make cross-border payments as easily and safely as they would in their own countries. Moreover, it aims to subject cross-border payments to the same charges as domestic payments. In the following text, we give you an overview of the most important legislation changes and what they mean for you and your business.

 

Summary 

EU rules mean your electronic payments are becoming cheaper, easier and safer. Here’s how:

  • You can make payments throughout Europe (the EU, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) as easily and safely as in your home country.
  • You can no longer be charged extra costs by a merchant when you pay using a card issued in the EU.
  • The rules cover all kinds of electronic payments (e.g. credit transfers, direct debits, card payments).
  • Anybody legally residing in Europe has the right to a bank account for making electronic payments (“payment account”).

 

Electronic payments available to all

  • Every consumer legally residing in the EU has the right to at least a basic payment account free of charge or for a reasonable fee. (i.e. one that comes with a debit card, covers cash withdrawals, safekeeping of funds, and making and receiving payments).
  • Cross-border payments cost the same as national transactions
  • A single euro account allows you to make all your payments across Europe.
  • Cross-border payments in euro will cost you the same as domestic payments in EUR.
  • From the 15th December 2019, your crossborder transactions in EUR will cost the same as domestic payments in the national currency.
  • Cash withdrawals in EUR outside your bank ATM network should cost the same in another member state as in your home country.

 

More security with better protection

  • From September 2019, the electronic payments will be more secure thanks to strong customer authentication. It works through a combination of different authentication factors like a PIN and your fingerprint. For more information, you should contact your payment service provider.
  • Your liability in case of an unauthorised payment – for example when your credit card is stolen – is limited to a maximum of €50 (except in cases of gross negligence). You will not be liable for any unauthorised payment that takes place after you have informed your bank. Moreover, you are not responsible for any online payment if your payment service provider or bank does not use strong customer authentication.
  • If a final card payment amount is not known in advance (e.g. car rentals or hotel costs), a merchant can only block an agreed amount on your card with your approval.
  • With ‘direct debit’ (e.g. you have authorised a company to collect payments from your account) you have 8 weeks to challenge any unduly charged amount. You must be reimbursed within 10 working days.

 

Fair pricing

  • You have the right to know what charges, if any, apply to your payments.
  • As a rule, merchants, both in shops and online, cannot make you pay more than the published price (‘surcharge’) when you pay with consumer debit and credit cards. In certain circumstances (e.g. for certain cards), a surcharge may still apply – but then it has to reflect the true cost to the merchant of this payment method. If you feel that you have been unfairly overcharged, for instance when booking a flight or paying for a hotel reservation, visit https://europa.eu/!Bn34nv to learn more about your rights.

 

New services

Thanks to recent technology, you now have the option to use new, innovative financial services offered by licensed banks and other regulated payment service providers other than your bank. This means, for instance, that you can monitor your finances or make online purchases without a credit or debit card. Just like banks, these new payment services providers must be licensed and supervised, and have to handle your data securely.

 

EU rules ensure that your electronic payments go smoothly. But if there is a problem, your bank or other payment service providers must respond to complaints within 15 business days. If you are still not satisfied, you can bring your case to the national competent authority.

 

Learn more about your rights here

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